Krishan Partap (KP) Singh’s The Raisina Series is a trilogy of political thrillers based around the lives of two friends who first meet at Delhi’s Modern School. They are the future class of 1984, and the directions their lives will take, the women they marry and the careers they choose, will change the country of India, forever. Praised by the Business Standard as ‘Thoroughly enjoyable… Singh’s formula is pure Jeffrey Archer’ the trilogy follows the lives of two politically ambitious and very different friends: the soulful and wise Azim Khan, and the cocky, sometimes arrogant but still likable, Karan Nehru.
Ex-Army Chief and now President of India, General Dayal defies his rubber-stamp status to take on Prime Minister Yadav, head of the ruling Third Front coalition government, as the fate of India teeters in the balance. Caught in the crossfire between the two warring leaders, will private banker turned wheeler-dealer Jasjit Singh Sidhu allow the enigmatic Azim Khan and the irrepressible Karan Nehru (estranged husband of General Dayal’s daughter) to arouse his dormant conscience, or will he, child of the Emergency, born into Delhi’s power elite and brought up in a culture of rampant corruption and self-serving greed, remain true to type.
What follows is a brief extract first from Delhi Durbar, and then from Young Turks, where the boys first meet:
The tale that follows is neither a personal confession nor an apology – for which it can very easily be mistaken – but something much more substantial. It is an explanation or, to be more precise, an elucidation of the excesses that were committed within my knowledge by men of power.
As it turned out, it took only a handful of days for the great altruistic hopes of our forefathers to be trampled upon by the naked greed and self-interest of the few, among whose number, I concede, I must be counted. It all happened so stealthily that everything we once held sacred as a nation became a memory without any sort of public outrage or mourning in this so-called largest democracy in the world. And I witnessed the unfolding act of our disgrace from a front-row seat. This truth marks the highest point as well as the deepest regret of my life; the paradox irrevocably entwined in my memory.
I had returned to India confronting a dilemma of destiny, and voluntarily choosing to be Indian once again. The dark blue passport would be my umbilical partner till death do us part. Unlike many of my generation and class, I had never, in my youth, been convinced that if I was to have a great future it would by definition preclude returning to my motherland.
Living abroad for most of my early adulthood only helped me further cement a deep bond with my country. I understood more deeply what it meant to be Indian, away from India. The irony is not lost on me – it proved to be a sort of Nehruvian passage of illumination, shining its torch on the darkest depths of myself. My return turned out to be more than just an end of a journey; it became the beginning of another more enlightening one – my re-acquaintance with Delhi…
Best friends Khan and Nehru have been together all their lives: first in school and now in politics. Slowly but surely, Khan makes western Uttar Pradesh his electoral fiefdom and begins his journey to becoming the leader of Muslim India while Nehru establishes himself as the overlord of eastern Uttar Pradesh and the adjoining states. Together they carve their spaces in India’s politics, never compromising their friendship until, finally, as cabinet ministers in a shaky coalition government under the prime-ministership of the wily former Congressman Y. K. Naidu, their widely differing ideologies and temperaments, and the sheer scale of unfolding events, all combine to pit them together in a fierce battle for the highest office…
Extract from Young Turks:
For the next two years, Azim, Karan and Raj formed an unlikely triumvirate that matched their differing personalities with their varied body types. Azim was tall and lanky with sharp, aristocratic features that hinted at his aloof personality. Karan Nehru, though not the tallest of men, made up for it by possessing the body of an ox, the result of a vigorous weight-lifting regimen. With a face dominated by the broadest of jaws, he wore the look of someone used to getting his way. Athletic Raj, with his Bollywood good looks and wavy black hair, was without doubt the charmer of the group who effortlessly made friends with everyone – from the hottest girls to the men running the food-stalls outside the school grounds. This came in handy, since Karan had an uncanny ability to get into brawls wherever he went.
Life changed when the countdown of their schooldays began. Raj was not really sure what he was going to study but he was quite sure where he would – the United States, and he had already started preparing for the Scholastic Aptitude Test. US colleges were expensive but Raj’s father, a diplomat from a rich family, could more than afford it. He had served in New York, and the family’s time there had convinced Raj that America was the place to be if you wanted to make your name in the world. He pronounced to anyone who would hear that he could not see himself living in India.
Karan, on the other hand, had a military career in mind, since the only thing he had taken seriously in his entire high-school career was his participation in the army wing of the National Cadet Corps (NCC), a voluntary organization that gave students around the country a preview of what life might be like in the military. But Karan had not volunteered – he’d been drafted into it by the teacher in charge of NCC training who had caught him smoking behind the bike shed. Nevertheless, the experience had awoken in him a martial streak. Karan, never formerly thought of as dependable, was given more and more responsibility in the NCC with every passing year. Ultimately he was made the chief officer cadet of the school troop. What really sealed the deal in his mind was being chosen to train at an army camp in Meerut. The time he spent there, participating in the training and drills as if he were himself newly enlisted, was the first time Karan felt he had directed his energies productively. He decided to take the entrance exam for the National Defence Academy (NDA). To his surprise, and just about everyone else’s, he got in. The hitch was that his father’s plans for him had included college, and not wearing a uniform; however, in the end Karan got his way, like always.
Azim did not want to go to the United States, nor join the army. He was the only one of the three who was worried about the upcoming exams and getting into a good university in India, preferably in Delhi. So he hit the books with a vengeance, curtailed both his time on the golf course and his contact with friends.
As the end of their schooldays approached, fate had primed the friends to head in three distinctly different directions.
Assuming power in the messy aftermath of a war with Pakistan, and mounting hostility with a belligerent China, the prime minister of India inherits a country in crisis. Heading a shaky coalition, his leadership is questioned at every turn, most insidiously by the man he once considered to be his best friend, and who is now his deputy. This new man in the seat of power must prove himself worthy, the man with the ability to heal the wounds of the past and chart a path to a united and bold future for the nation.
Buffeted by history, conflicted by ideology and curbed by his own limitations, the prime minister and his team of idealists face the ultimate test. Will they succeed?
The concluding volume of the bestselling Raisina Series, The War Ministry is a gripping account of the complex, day-to-day functioning of a prime minister and his office.
Krishan Partap Singh is a former banker who graduated from the Stern Business School and worked for Merrill Lynch in Dubai. He now lives and writes in New Delhi. He is the author of Delhi Durbar, Young Turks and The War Ministry — The Raisina Series trilogy of novels set in the political village of Lutyens’ Delhi, India’s seat of power.